The Attack on the Rabbits

The Attack on the Rabbits

Two of my Creative Writing students, Manvik and Sayan, were inspired to collaborate on this story after learning the vocabulary in this article. Enjoy!

Rabbits’ Perspective 

“Congratulations, Sam, you finally learned how to binky!” my mother says. William, my rude younger brother, snickers, “I learned how to binky many years ago.” My other brother Henry laughs out loud. By the way, I am a rabbit. My brothers despise me because I get a bit more attention from my parents. I have a very kind mother and father.  I am three years old, and I am a very special rabbit.

For example, I only recently learned how to binky, but other rabbits can do these large jumps right after they are born. Instead, I was making a strange movement of twirling before I was encouraged to binky by an older rabbit. He told me that wolves would catch me if I didn’t learn how to move quickly. My mother says to William that he must keep quiet and respect the fact that I had finally learned how to binky.

My great and protective father says, “To celebrate this achievement, we will go for a nice stroll with our whole family.” We have almost 20 relatives.

I say, “I will practice binkying in the meantime.” So our big family of rabbits head out on a stroll. The wise old rabbit who encouraged me to binky tells me, ”Just remember to keep binkying, Sam, for binkying can save any rabbit from the wolves. It is a good thing that you finally dropped your twirling act.”

 William comments, “I think Sam will get injured during the stroll and get eaten up by the wolves.”

”Who are the wolves?” I ask.

A rabbit answers, “The wolves are fierce predators that have big gritting teeth and big bodies. They have no wisdom, and they are big bullies of the forest. They are greedy and selfish creatures, and they care only about themselves. We, on the other hand, care for all the creatures in our forest and produce medicines for all.”

“Making medicine is our hobby,” say the other rabbits in unison. We all eat berries and enjoy a great stroll.

Wolves’ Perspective

All the creatures in the forest call us fearless and selfish. Suddenly our leader bays, telling us that he sees a buffalo herd. Our wolf pack is hungry so we start the hunt. He commands, “Follow me.” While we start chasing the buffalo, our leader falls and gets hurt. He tries to bend down and cries in agony, “Keep going. I’ll be okay.”

Because I am the second oldest wolf, I am now the leader. Our pack keeps moving. We almost catch up to the buffalo herd, but then a wolf howls and the rest of the pack joins in. I tell them to keep moving, but even I can’t resist the urge to howl with them. After all the howling is over, the buffalo herd is long gone. I warn them to never lose focus during a hunt ever again.

 “Our leader is hurt. We have to get him food quickly. Follow me. I smell rabbit,” I announce. Right when the rabbits see us, they start hopping away quickly. It looks like one of them is twirling. I tell them to hunt the special one.

The other wolves ask me why. I reply impatiently, “We always hunt the weak ones.” We start chasing the rabbit.

Rabbits’ Perspective 

We were having a great time until–“WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!!!” shouts one of the rabbits. He had spotted a wolf pack. I am so nervous and do not have much practice binkying, so I twirl as fast as I can.  All the rabbits are going faster and I am lagging behind. The wolves are gaining on me, and the rest of the rabbits keep moving.

The wolves are about to make a meal of me, and then my mother rescues me. She says, “Remember to binky! It can save your life!” We winky away from the wolves to safety.

Then we see a dying wolf in the forest. He says in agony, “Can somebody give me some food and medicine for my injury? Otherwise, I will die!” None of us bother to give him food or our precious medicine.

An elder rabbit exclaims, “Why should we give you anything when you always try to kill us and other creatures?”

The dying wolf says, “We were trying to hunt buffalo but we failed, and we desperately needed food, so we tried to hunt you instead.”

Many rabbits feel bad for the wolf and decide to help him, but right then, the wolves pounce on us. We hop away just in time, binkying into our den. My mother checks that everyone has made it safely to the den. We are safe for now.

Wolves’ Perspective

We aren’t able to save our leader in time. Maybe we should have talked the rabbits into giving us one of their medicines, instead of brutally attacking them many times for food. I remember that our leader once told us they have many secrets.  We feel very disappointed and foolish.

Desperately, I tell the pack to sleep. I finally realize how being cruel and mean to other creatures can have an impact to our wolf pack. It is going to be very hard to change the way we behave.

After some time, we feel that we made the right decision to turn into good animals. Those rabbits changed our lives, and we shall never eat a rabbit again.

Rabbits’ Perspective

How foolish the wolves are. Their leader was sick but instead of asking us to give them medicine, they attacked us. We have a surplus amount of medicines for any sickness.

“Well, Sam, you learned a lesson,” my mother says. “Today, you saw first-hand why it is important to winky instead of twirl.”

“Now why don’t you practice binkying some ore?” says my father. ”You and I should start practicing how to hop at great speeds during times of need, such as this wolf attack.”

Wolves’ Perspective

One week later, after we swore never to eat rabbits again, we visit the rabbit den and say, “We are terribly sorry for attacking you last week. We shall never harm your species again.”

The wisest rabbit knows that we are telling the truth and says, “Let’s be friends forever.”

And so, the wolves and the rabbits remained friends to this day. When the wolves were in need, the rabbits gave them medicines, while the wolves protected the rabbits from other predators.

A land of myth and a time of magic

A land of myth and a time of magic

In a land of myth and a time of magic, the future of Gerbley Farm rests on the shoulders of a young girl. Her name, Mackie Gerbley.

Mackie lived on her family farm with her dad, Tom O’Connor Gerbley, her mother, Sheila Gerbley, and her dog, Jersey. Mackie is a jumpy person who is always looking for adventure. Her red hair flamed, and freckles shone like speckled sand on a beach. There were always adventures living on a farm, but to her, they weren’t so exciting. Mackie would pray for bone thrilling, spine chilling, making-history adventure. Little did she know…

“C’mon Mackie, get out of bed!” yelled Sheila for the 40th time today. “We have to go feed the animals!”

“I don’t want to get out of bed,” Mackie complained.

“Come downstairs and eat breakfast right now, or else I will bring in the new chicks without you,” Sheila yelled teasingly.

“Oh! That’s right. It’s pickup day for the new baby chicks!” Mackie said to herself as she got out of bed and ran downstairs to eat breakfast. “Where’s the cereal mom?”

“No cereal today. You will have eggs for breakfast,” Sheila said. “If you don’t hurry up, I will pick up the chicks. You know that we are supposed to be there in half an hour.”

“Ugggh. You know I hate eggs. Why do you make me eat them?” complained Mackie.

“Then why in the world are we raising chickens?” Sheila remarked sarcastically.

“Uh, for you and dad, obviously,” Mackie said while frying herself an egg.

“Just hurry up. I will leave in five minutes whether you are ready or not,” Sheila told her. “And figure out if your dad is making barbecue for lunch please.”

Mackie gobbled down her egg and ran up the stairs to brush her teeth and get dressed. She ran back downstairs and found her dad outside watering the crops.

“Hey, Dad!” Mackie said exhausted and out of breath.

“Hey, pumpkin! Did you go for a morning run?” Farmer O’connor asked.

“You wish,” Mackie said with a small giggle, “Anyways, Mom was wondering if you wanted to make barbecue for lunch.”
“You know I’ll take any chance to barbecue,” Mackie’s dad couldn’t help but smile whenever he knew he would get to barbecue.

“Mackie! Where are you?” Mackie’s mom yelled from inside the house. “I’m going to go pick up the chicks!”
“Coming, Mom!” Mackie yelled.

Mackie ran to the car. She and her mom made their way to the chick pickup when she suddenly realized something.
“Mom, we forgot to feed the animals!” Mackie said in worry.

“Relax porcupine, I fed them while you were sleeping,” Sheila assured Mackie.

“Oh, thanks, mom!” Mackie said gleefully. “Ahhh, I’m so excited to meet the new chicks. They are going to be so cute.”
Mackie and her mom drive to the place where they were going to pick up the chicks.

“We’re here!” Sheila said in a happy tone.

“Aww, I’m so excited,” Mackie said as she jumped in her seat.

“Calm down, Mackie. The chicks won’t run away,” Sheila chuckled.

Mackie and Sheila walked into the big barn where they met the owner.

“Hi!” Mackie exclaimed.

“Hi, you must be Sheila Gerbley with the order of 25 chicks for Gerbley Farm,” the owner said.

“Yes, that’s me,” Sheila said in awe, ” The chicks are so cute!”

“Can we take them home already?” Mackie complained.

“Yes, bring them to the car and wait for me. I will pay him and come,” Sheila chimed.

Mackie and her mom arrived back home and put the chicks in their new home. Jersey, the farm dog barked in excitement.

“Hi, Jersey,” Mackie cooed.

“Hey guys! Back already?” Mackie’s dad asked.

“Yup, and the chicks are in their new home,” Mackie stated. “Mmm, what is that smell? Wait……”

“It’s barbecue time!” Mackie and her dad exclaimed together.

They sat down to eat the delicious barbecue that Farmer O’connor made.

“Thanks dad, it’s great,” Mackie beamed.

“You really outdid yourself this time Tom,” Sheila complimented.

The Gerbley family finished eating lunch, and it was time to show Mackie’s dad the baby chicks.

“They are so cute,” Mackie’s dad said.

“I know, right?” Mackie agreed.

“We should probably add some more dry straw and hay to the coop,” Farmer O’connor mentioned. “Pumpkin, do you mind going and getting some more?”

“Of, course. Consider it done,” Mackie said as she made her way to the barn.

The afternoon passed as Farmer O’connor tended to his crops, while Mackie and her mom cared for the animals. After the farm work, they went inside to take a shower and eat dinner.

“Goodnight, pumpkin,” Mackie’s dad said as he kissed her forehead.

“Goodnight, porcupine,” Mackie’s mom said she turned off the bedroom lights.

For some reason, Mackie wasn’t able to sleep until she came to the realization that the outside candles were on!
“Uh, oh,” Mackie whispered to herself as she went outside to put them out. “UH, OH!”

Mackie came out to see that the candles had started a fire! She ran inside and wrote a note saying that she would be home soon. She grabbed her jacket and ran out without a plan. All she knew was that she had to retrieve the water and earth element. She would have to combine them to make the ground wet. She started her journey and came across something while looking for the earth or water element.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” Mackie quavered.

There was a soft rustle coming from the bushes, the wind was howling, and it was pitch dark. She started to hear growling.
“A wolf!” Mackie thought to herself.

She froze in her tracks as she heard the animal growl. It jumped out of the bushes right at Mackie.

“AHHHH!” Mackie screamed in terror.
To Mackie’s surprise, the animal didn’t rip her into tiny bits and pieces, instead it licked her and barked happily.
“Wha–JERSEY!” Mackie gleed. “Awww, hey buddy.”

Jersey licked her face and sat in her lap. But it was time for her to finish her adventure.

“Okay, Jersey. Let’s go and find the elements,” Mackie said.

Thirty minutes passed before Mackie saw a small glow coming from the bushes.

“That’s it,” Mackie thought to herself. “I found something.”

She wandered in the direction of the light only to find the air element. She wished for the air element to help her, but it only made it worse. The wind blew making the fire spread faster. She knew she had to find the other elements quickly.

“C’mon, Jersey, we will have to run,” Mackie stated.

Another 15 minutes of running later, there was another glow from the bushes. She had to go through a maze to get to it.

“This is going to take a while,” Mackie thought.

She ran towards the light, finding many dead ends.

“Here it is, Jersey. The earth element!” Mackie smiled but knew her journey wasn’t over.

She grabbed the stone and put it in her pocket. She continued to run in search of the water element.

“What was that?” Mackie inquired, “Oh my god, it’s a lion!”

“You must know me,” the lion responded to Mackie’s shriek.

“You can talk,” Mackie gasped, “and no, I don’t know you.”

“Me? You don’t know me? You don’t know the king of the jungle?” the lion asked.

“If you are the king of the jungle, can you tell me where I can find the water element?” Mackie asked.

“Oh, so it was you who was foolish enough to set my home on fire,” the lion said. “Well, if you want the element, you have to solve my riddle.”

“Ok, what other option do I have?” Mackie asked

“None other,” the lion snapped. “Here is your riddle. What disappears as soon as you say its name?”

Mackie thought hard until she thought she had the answer.
“Is it silence?” Mackie asked.

“Correct,” the lion said as he handed over the water element.
Mackie merged the water and earth elements, stopping the fire. She completed her task and returned home like nothing happened.

The Greedy King

The Greedy King

In a kingdom called Griffindale there once was a very mean king. The king’s name was Alex. He was very arrogant and always greedy for power and wealth. So many people hated the king because of his greed and arrogance.

The king had millions and millions of really tall guards. He was so obsessed with his wealth that he always told his guards, “Hey guards, wear this shiny golden armor because I don’t have a place to keep them, and if you lose even one small piece, you will be hanged!!!!” The guards never really liked the king, but they were helpless.

The king lived in a grey and black castle as tall as a skyscraper. It was very crooked. The castle had millions of rooms and millions of stairs. It also had a huge garden where magical things happened.
In the kingdom, there lived a boy named Adam with sky blue eyes. His friends and family called him Addie. He wore a fur coat that could fit a giant. He was very kind and understanding. Adam had an older brother named John who was a servant in the castle.

One day, John and Adam walked past a fruit stall near the castle.

“Hey John, can we buy some apples and peaches please?” Adam asked his brother.

“Ok,” sighed John. John bought the apples and the peaches, and when the two finished eating their fruit, they continued their stroll. Suddenly, Adam accidentally bumped into one of the castle guards! Luckily, the guard didn’t see him. The other guards were slashing at the poor people in the kingdom because the king wanted to get whatever money he could from them.


“Hey! Stop hurting them!!” Adam yelled, but the guards didn’t listen. Adam turned to his brother and pleaded, “Look what the guards are doing! We have to stop them!” John agreed.

Just then, Adam had a great idea. He said to John, “You know how the king has a garden where magical things happen? Let’s go there and find a spell to cure the king of his greed!”

So that night, the two brothers tried sneaking into the castle, but they were caught by the guards and thrown into prison. They worried that they would never escape. John and Adam heard the guards talking. The king ordered that tomorrow the boys would be hung. Adam and John needed to find a way to escape.

According to legend, the castle prison had a secret wall that prisoners could escape through. Adam and John spent most of the night trying to find the secret wall. Finally, Adam found it! They escaped through the wall and ran to the magical garden where the spell book was kept.

Their luck was poor. The king was sitting in the garden when the boys arrived and he sent them back to prison. This time, the secret wall was sealed and they would need another escape plan. Luckily, Adam had small hands that could fit through the jail cell bars. Adam tricked the guard into coming close to their jail cell.

“I have a secret about the king. Do you want to hear it?” Adam said. He knew that the guards hated the king and loved secrets about him.

“Tell me quickly. I don’t have much time,” the guard replied. Adam whispered so that the guard would lean close. While the guard was listening to Adam’s lie, he snuck his hand through the bars and grabbed the keys without the guard noticing. The guard walked away to tell the other guards the secret about the king that Adam had made up. That was their chance to use the keys and escape. It worked!

Once again, the brothers ran to the garden, but this time nobody was there. They found the spell book and read how to cure the king from his greed. Next to the book was a magical wand. They waved the wand in the direction of the king’s bedroom and recited the spell.

Then, just as they were about to leave, the king was right in front of them! Instead of putting John and Adam back in jail, the king thanked them for curing him of his greed. He said, “You will be presented in court tomorrow at 9 o’clock sharp.”

The next day in court, the king gave a lot of his wealth to John and Adam and distributed the rest of his wealth amongst the people in the kingdom. He told his guards to give nice clothes to all the poor people. The whole kingdom loved their king from that day on.

9 Tips for Writing Stories by Award-Winning Author, Sid Fleischman

9 Tips for Writing Stories by Award-Winning Author, Sid Fleischman

My late grandfather, Sid Fleischman, wrote over fifty books in his lifetime. Here are a few of his writing tips.

1. It’s the job of the hero or heroine to solve the story problem: Don’t leave it to a minor character like Uncle Harry. You’d know something was wrong if Watson solved the crime instead of Sherlock Holmes. This clunky plotting sank many of my stories when I started out. 

2. The main character should be changed by the events of the story. Remember your fairy tales? Change is built into the refrain at the end: “And they lived happily ever after.” 

3. If there’s a hole in your story, point it out and the hole will disappear. If you’ve written something that readers might not accept as plausible, don’t simply hope they won’t notice.  Point at the problem and come up with an explanation that will satisfy them.

4. Dramatize important scenes; narrate the trivialities. Use dialogue and what-happened-next detail to bring your major scenes to full life.  The rest can get by with mere summaries.

5. Give weather reports. It helps the reality of a scene if foghorns are blowing or kites are in the sky on a windy afternoon or the day’s so hot wallpaper is peeling off the walls. 

6. The stronger the villain – or opposing force – the stronger the hero or heroine. A wimpy problem delivers a wimpy story. Stack the odds against your hero, then figure out a way for her or him to triumph.

7. When possible, give important characters an “entrance”. That’s why grand staircases were invented. 

8. Write in Scenes. It’s generally hard to find any pulse in straight narration. Color it grey. Show; don’t tell. Color it splashy.

9. Imagery is powerful shorthand. It says in four or five memorable words what might otherwise take you sentences to describe.  “He could bathe in a shotgun barrel” beats “He was by far the thinnest person I’d ever seen in my entire life.” Don’t settle for comparisons that don’t quite fit the bill. It takes time to think up fresh similes and metaphors, but it’s time well spent. 

To learn more about Sid Fleischman, his life and his writing, visit his website at www.sidfleischman.com.

SCARLET

SCARLET

There was once a girl named Scarlet who had red hair true to her name. She lived in a big two-story house on Corcus Lane in the city of Twilight Mist. Her heart was as big as the world. She was funny, smart, and brave, and she had an amazing sense of smell. She could smell a fire from 30 miles away!

One summer day, warm as freshly baked bread, Scarlet trudged upstairs. Usually, her parents didn’t give her chores in the summer, but today she had a million things to do. Suddenly, she heard the phone ring. It was her best friends, Alice and Alex.

“Hey Scarlet! We don’t really care if you say yes or no, but you are coming exploring with us! We think there is a quartz in the city!” She and her friends were obsessed with gems and stones.

After a lot of persuading with her mother, she finally gave in. Scarlet, Alice, and Alex searched for the quartz until lunchtime. Scarlet was getting tired of looking and suggested they turn back, but instead, they decided to split up to cover more ground.
Suddenly, as Scarlet reached the outskirts of Twilight Mist, she felt a strong hand firmly grip her back. Scarlet could hear her enemy, Crystal, and Crystal’s best friend, Rebba, snickering behind her. Then the hand let go. Scarlet stumbled on a rock and landed on the grass.

“Wait. What? I landed on the grass?! Twilight Mist is located on a peninsula! It doesn’t have grass on the outskirts!” she wondered out loud. A thought struck her. What if she was in a new city?

“Hi,” a voice woke her from her thoughts. It belonged to a girl with long, silky hair. She was wearing a sky blue mask and wore long feather earrings. “Umm. Sorry. I did NOT mean to scare you, but are you new here?”

Scarlet smiled, “Am I that obvious?”

The girl replied with a grin, “You’re not wearing a mask. Citizens of our town, Midday Clearness, must wear masks because we live near a fire zone and it can get smokey really fast. My name is Jackie,” she held out her hand.

“I’m Scarlet,” she replied. “Actually it does smell like smoke!“

“Well, you have a great sense of smell, Scarlet, ‘cause there is a fire 30 miles from here! We better get you a mask,” she said. Scarlet could smell the fire moving closer to the town.

“Where is your mayor?” Scarlet asked urgently. She needed to get all the townspeople of Midday Clearness to evacuate before the fire reached the town. Jackie said she would bring Scarlet to the City Hall.

When they arrived at the City Hall, the mayor was busy fixing a Rubik’s Cube.

“Someone hurt you, I presume?” he said lazily.

“No!” she screamed. “The fire is moving closer to your town! Make your people evacuate! NOW!” He was impressed by how much Scarlet cared about his town. The mayor put down his Rubik’s Cube and pressed the alarm button. A recording of a woman’s voice bellowed from alarm speakers placed all over the town:

“Fire. Fire. Please evacuate now. Bring all children, pets, and special items to the edge of town.” Scarlet, Jackie, and the Mayor watched sadly as everyone rushed from their homes.

Thanks to Scarlet, everyone got out safely and tearfully watched their town go down in flames from a safe distance. The mayor looked down at Scarlet and said, “What can I do to thank you?”

She replied, “I could use a glass of water. And the path back to Twilight Mist.” Scarlet learned that she had been taken through the deepest, darkest, most dangerous path of the forest from Twilight Mist to Midday Clearness. The Mayor arranged for guards to escort Scarlet back home through a much safer path.

Scarlet’s parents and her friends, Alice and Alex, had been looking for her tearfully. As Alice caught sight of Scarlet, she ran and broke into sobs.

“Where have you been? We’ve been looking everywhere for you! We were all so worried!” she cried.

Scarlet told them about Midday Clearness, Jackie, the Mayor, and the fire. They were amazed by the story.

Scarlet realized that while she was saving the people of Midday Clearness, the Mayor had slipped a quartz into her pocket. She handed it to Alice who accepted the gem with a wide, goofy grin. Scarlet asked her parents if she could invite Jackie for a sleepover. Of course they said yes. Jackie took the safe route to Twilight Mist.

They quickly figured out that Crystal and Rebba had sent Scarlet to Midday Clearness, thinking she would never find her way back. Crystal and Rebba were sent far away as punishment.

“No! We will come back! We will get our revenge!” they screamed as they were being sent to a far off place. But did they come back? Well, nobody knows. But what we do know is that Scarlet became one of Twilight Mist’s best police officers in 3 centuries!

And after that, all was well.

A Coin In The Fountain

A Coin In The Fountain

The town San Orizani, Italy, is secluded from the rest of the world. San Orizani in a word: quaint. Green hills surround half the town, a huge crystal blue lake cutting off the other half. Small cobblestone streets join together in a circle at the middle of the community. The streets are surrounded by houses and shops straight out of a renaissance painting. The only lavish part of the village is the magnificent white fountain in the center of the town square. Coins litter the bottom as water flies out of the figurine. The entire town looks like it belongs in a picture book. The only connection to the rest of civilization is a small train station, located about 3 miles from the town. Five small buses serve as transportation to the train station from 6am to 6pm.

We walk into San Orizani, marveling at the picturesque scenery. I brush my dark hair out of my eyes, snapping pictures. A whine interrupts my train of thought. Looking down, I see a small girl with light skin and dark hair. Her lips are pulled into a pout. My sister, May.

“I’m huuuunnnnngggrrrryyyy,” she groans. We walk towards a small restaurant and get some pizza. As we walk around, slices dripping with cheese and olives in hand, we notice hoards of people heading toward the buses.
“Summer?” May calls out to me.“Why is everyone leaving?”

I shrug at her. “I don’t know. Let’s keep looking around and we can take the last bus. We have another hour.” I replied. She answered with a shrug and ran forward, noticing a huge white statue. She closed her eyes and flicked a coin into the fountain.

Laughing, I asked, “What did you wish for?”

She looked at me, “I wished we could stay in Italy forever.” I smiled at her, but I frowned inside. Our flight back to the United States was leaving at 1:30am tomorrow morning. We couldn’t miss it. This was our first trip after our parents died in a car crash last year. They had spent ages planning this family trip to Italy. They were so excited to show us the country where they had spent their honeymoon. So we decided to go without them, and now I was in charge. If we missed our flight home, we wouldn’t be able to buy new tickets.

I was determined to make the most of our time left in Italy. The hour flew by as we ran around the town, laughing and taking pictures.

Tired, we made our way to the buses parked neatly on the side of the road. I was surprised to see that nobody seemed to be inside the buses. I knocked on the glass door, but it was obvious that no one was around. To make matters worse, May was hungry again.

We hurried around the town for 15 minutes looking for anyone who could help us, noting that all the restaurants and shops seemed to be closed. Panicking, I called every taxi company, but none of them would help us. We finally came upon a tiny pastry shop and walked inside. An elderly lady seemed surprised to see us.

“Ti sei person?” she inquired. I had no idea what she meant. I pulled out my phone, looking for the Italian to English translation.

“Lei parla inglese? Do you speak English?” I asked in my best Italian. The smile from the woman’s face indicated that I had butchered the words.

“Sí. Yes.” She said in a heavily accented voice.

I rushed to order pastries, biting into pure heaven as I paid as quickly as I could. Biting into the sweet croissant, I sighed. A bad pastry in Italy is better than the best pastry anywhere else.

“Thanks. What’s your name?” I asked the lady.

“You call me Signora Bianchi,” she said. “Are you missed the buses?” She didn’t know English very well, but she knew more English than I did of Italian, so I tried to understand her.

“Yes, we missed the last bus and it’s really important that we get back to Florence,” my voice cracked on the “really.” I tried to hide my panic in front of May, who was munching away gleefully. Signora Bianchi nodded thoughtfully, slipping another streusel onto my plate. She shot me a smile.

“You call taxi?” she asked. I sighed and nodded. I had called everyone, and no one was picking up or willing to make the hour-long drive to San Orizani for a few measly euros. Signora Bianchi looked at us. “You try waiting by bus station? Someone will come, I’m sure. Or you ring someone on your cellular?” she suggested. I had called everyone I knew, but I decided to take the woman’s advice and head to the bus station.

“How do you know there will be someone at the bus station?” I wondered aloud.
Signora Bianchi looked at me curiously, handing May an apple danish. Her eyebrows bunched together and she tilted her head as if she didn’t understand me. I tried asking the same question in Italian.

“Come fai a sapere che ci sarà qualcuno lì?”

Signora Bianchi laughed loudly, her head moving up and down. She still didn’t understand my question. I sighed, and showed her my phone. She read the translation.

“Ohh. Capisco. Yes, someone is there, my grandson, Antonio. He helps you,” she assured. I breathed a sigh of relief. We had a chance to get home. I dragged May from the table, who was on her third croissant. I quickly turned back to try and pay Signora Bianchi.

“No, you find home. I do not need euros for this,” she smiled and handed May another pastry, which May accepted with relish. I tried insisting that Signora Bianchi accept the money.

“No. Go to bus station. Presto! Quick!” She pushed me toward the door. Grabbing May’s hand, I raced toward the bus station. A man wearing a leather jacket and a biker helmet stood there, looking at his phone.

“Lei parla Inglese?” I asked him. I hoped he could speak English.

“Do you speak Italian?” he asked with a surprisingly soft accent.

“Um, no, but are you Antonio?” I replied.

“Anth-onio,” he said, correcting my pronunciation of his name. I didn’t know what it was, but there was something about his responses that got me riled up.

“Please listen. We missed the last bus to the train station and our flight leaves from Florence, and we have to get to Florence-”

“No, Firenze. If you are in Italia pronounce the names of places correctly.”

“Could you give us a ride to the train station, please?” I begged, choosing to ignore his rude comments. He looked at me with dark brown eyes and smiled.

“No,” he said flatly. I was astounded. I opened my mouth to shout at the man. Just then, May started sobbing, and both of us looked at her. Something about a sobbing girl must have suddenly scared him.

“Signora Bianchi said you would help us, but you’re just a big meanie,” May cried. Antonio sighed.

“If Signora Bianchi sent you, then yes, I will help you.” I threw my arms up in exasperation. If May had just cried as soon as she saw him, we could have left ten minutes ago.

“Yes, thank you. Let’s go!” I shouted. Antonio laughed, and we settled down on his black motorcycle. We flew across the road and got to the train station in less than ten minutes.

Breathlessly, I thanked Antonio, and we rushed into the station. I glanced at the huge clock in the center of the train station. I gulped anxiously, realizing our train was leaving in five minutes. With a sweaty palm, I shoved our tickets to the lady at the counter. She seemed to be moving in slow motion as she stamped our tickets. A scream threatened to erupt out of me. I grabbed the tickets out of her hands, and May and I raced to the platform as if we were being chased. Just as the train started to move, I felt something fly out of my pocket. Our passports! I flew toward them.

“Summer?” May called softly. I looked behind me. May’s wish at the fountain had come true. The train, our way home, had left.

We were trapped.

The Curious Boy

The Curious Boy

There was once a forest covered with green. Trees as tall as skyscrapers waved to all the animals day and night. The forest had all the plants you could think of. Even though it had the best plants, no one ever set foot in the forest because they were scared of the animals that lived there.

However, there was one boy who always wanted to explore the forest. Dave was a young boy who wore glasses and was as smart as a robot. He lived near the forest with his parents, and he believed that he could survive in the forest like Tarzan.

“Can I please go into the forest, mom, and dad?” he would beg to his parents.

“No, it is too dangerous!” they would shout.

The next day, his parents went shopping without Dave. As usual, he decided not to listen to his parents. He couldn’t resist exploring the forest!

As Dave entered the forest, he, “Wow this looks awesome!”  A few minutes later, Dave saw a giant brown bear. At first, he was afraid, but then he realized that the bear had something stuck in his foot. 

“Ouuucccchhh!” the bear cried. “There’s a thorn in my foot! Please help me. I won’t hurt you!

”Dave decided to help the bear and pulled out the thorn. The bear was friendly and said his name was Sam. 

“Thank you so much,” Sam sighed. After that, Sam and Dave became friends and together they wandered through the forest. 

After a while, Dave and Sam saw an old man in a treehouse. The treehouse looked very old with a small ladder leading to it. It also had a weak roof that was always wet because of the rain. He waved to Dave and Sam.

“Hi, my name is Bob. What are you doing in the forest?” he asked.

“We are exploring,” answered Dave.

“The forest is dangerous,” warned Bob. “Here is a magical sword that you can summon when you need it most.” They thanked Bob and continued on. 

Suddenly, someone grabbed Dave. It wasn’t Sam. It was the horrible mummy king! He dragged Dave away and yelled to Sam, “If I see you again, your friend is done!” 

Sam ran back to Bob’s treehouse and told him what happened.

“We need to help Dave!” Sam cried out loud. 

“Sam, calm down. We can figure this out,” Bob whispered. They figured out a plan to save their friend. Since Bob knew the whole forest like the back of his hand, he remembered that there was an old tunnel that led to the Mummy King’s pyramid. Bob was too old to walk, so Sam went alone. He found the tunnel and watched carefully for traps. The first trap he encountered was a lava trap.

If he pulled on the wrong string, lava would pour down. He knew that mummies liked the color black, so he pulled on the black string and a bridge led to the next room. Phew!

He made it through the traps one by one, but there was one more obstacle that Sam had to pass to get the key to Dave’s jail cell. He needed to answer a riddle asked by a mysterious voice. “What is in front of you but you cannot see?” the voice spoke. 

Sam knew the answer. “My future,” he stated. Then, the key appeared in his paw. Sam ran as fast as a jet to Dave’s cell and got him out. But wait! Someone was behind him. It was the Mummy King! 

He thundered, “How dare you enter my pyramid!“ He slammed his staff on the ground and a red and black poison rushed out. The poison touched Sam and he dropped to the ground. He didn’t move. 

Dave shouted, “You will pay for this!” Now was the time to summon Bob’s magical sword. He ran through the air and the sword appeared in his hand. In one strike,  he killed the hideous Mummy King. Then, Dave destroyed the king’s crown so that no one could claim the crown and take the Mummy King’s place.

Dave felt stronger after he defeated the King. He felt so strong that he carried Sam the bear out of the pyramid. A few hours had passed when finally Sam awoke. They had such an exciting adventure together. Dave said goodbye to his new friend and left the forest. 

When he got home, Dave’s parents were happy to see him, but they were so angry that he had not listened to them. Dave would not be allowed out of their sight ever again. At least he had one amazing adventure in the forest.

The Chronicles of Candyland

The Chronicles of Candyland

Jenny, a 12-year-old cheerful girl, had straight brown hair and green eyes like seaweed. As she came home back from school one day, she cried, “Mom!”

“Yes, dear,” her mom answered coming back to the kitchen from the backyard door.

“I’m hungry,” Jenny replied.

“Well, eat this bar and go to the grocery store,” her mom said as she handed her a list of items to buy.

As Jenny was walking to the store, she saw a wandering cute, little, white dog. She went to the dog and picked it up.

“You seem to have an owner,” she murmured as she saw a dusty collar around the dog. She wiped the collar to read the dog tag. All of a sudden everything around her changed. Instead of trees there were lollipops, and instead of homes, there were gingerbread houses. There was a big hot chocolate pond too right in front of her. Jenny, who was a great swimmer, had no interest in swimming in hot chocolate. Jenny was so shocked she almost fell down.

But just then, a girl popped out from the lollipops.

“Hello,” the girl exclaimed, “My name is Lolly.” She smiled. Jenny was amazed to see Lolly who had a beautiful face on a body made out of white chocolate, a light pink dress and licorice hair. “You must be new,” Lolly remarked as she looked at Jenny’s shocked face.

“Y-yes,” Jenny stammered.

“Not many people come here,” Lolly said. “You must be some kind of gummy bear from the Gummy Bear Land”.

“Umm actually no,” Jenny responded, “I am a human. What is this place?” Jenny asked.

“You are in great danger, I must hide you,” Lolly shivered.

“But what is this place?” Jenny questioned.

“Candyland,” said Lolly.

“Why am I in danger?” Jenny asked.

“You see, there is a witch here, who is looking for humans to make her immortal. She might have tricked you into coming here and now must be looking for you here in Candyland,” Lolly explained.

Just then, they heard a cackle. Lolly and Jenny turned around and saw an evil face, with a long nose and a pointed hat. There she was, the witch, Minerva, in her black dress sitting on a long broom.

“I believe she belongs to me,” Minerva smiled as she got off the broom. She pulled Jenny out of Lolly’s hands. In a split second, she put Jenny on her broom and flew away. Lolly gasped as she saw all this.

Jenny closed her eyes trying to think this was all a dream, but by the time she opened her eyes they had reached Minerva’s house. The house was all black, and surprisingly the walls were made of metal instead of candy. There were potions all around. When the witch was done tying Jenny on a pole, she grinned, “All I need is one pint of blood for the spell to make me immortal.” Minerva went to her table and got a knife. She went to Jenny and slash ! Minerva made a cut so deep on Jenny’s hand, blood started dripping out of her hand. Jenny felt a sharp pain, and looking at her blood made her feel like throwing up. Minerva took a bottle and filled Jenny’s blood with it. “It will just take a day to make the spell,” she cackled.

In the meantime, Lolly went looking for her gummy bear friend Jimmy, who she knew would be able to help her. She found him right in his lovely, colorful, gingerbread house.

“Hey Jimmy, the day we feared has come. Minerva found a human and is about to cast the spell to make herself immortal,” gasped Lolly.

“What? We need to do something right away! we cannot let this happen! Minerva will capture Candyland and make all of us her slaves as soon she becomes immortal,” Jimmy said while thinking what to do next at the same time.

Jimmy quickly ran and got a book which had the same immortality spell that Minerva was about to use. They started reading and found another spell which could make someone unconscious. Jimmy tore that page and kept it in his pocket. They rushed to Minerva’s house.

Minerva was starting to make the spell. She had tied Jenny to a lollipop tree right next to her house. Jenny was sick. She was getting more and more tired, but she still had hopes that someone would come and rescue her. As she was about to lose consciousness, she saw Lolly and a gummy bear walking towards her.

Lolly felt really sad for Jenny and decided to help her.

“First, we are going to help her,” said Lolly.

“But –,” Jimmy began.

“Please,” Lolly begged.

“Oh, alright,” Jimmy groaned.

“I know what will help her. There is a glowing magical herb in a cave. Let’s go!” Lolly replied as she took out a map from her pocket.

They started following the map to reach the cave with the glowing herb. While they were walking, a small gummy monkey came and pulled Lolly’s dress.

“Hey!” Lolly yelled and she took a jolly rancher stick to hit the monkey. But soon they figured that was a big mistake, because the next thing they knew, was a bunch of gummy monkeys were holding them.

“Ahhh!” they both yelled. They were swinging through the lollipop trees. One of the monkeys pulled the map from Lolly. In a few moments, the monkeys fled, dropping both Lolly and Jimmy on the ground.

“Which way are we going to go?” Jimmy asked.

“Let’s just look in every cave we find,” Lolly answered. So they kept on walking until they found a cave. That cave was filled with bats and there was no sign of a glowing herb. So they ran outside. The next cave they found was dark and empty. It echoed inside and Jimmy got scared. Again there was no sign of a glowing herb.

The third cave had a sleeping dragon inside. They thought the herb wasn’t in that cave either, until they saw something glowing in the dragon’s claws. It was the herb they were looking for! They quietly went closer to the dragon, but the dragon woke up. Lolly gasped. However the dragon was still very sleepy and did not notice Lolly and Jimmy. He put his claws away from the herb and fell back asleep. Jimmy quickly ran and plucked the herb. Both of them were out of the cave in a jiffy.
When they reached Minerva’s house, Lolly put the herb in Jenny’s mouth. As soon as it touched her tongue, the cut on her hand vanished. She opened her eyes and felt very strong.

“Hi Lolly!” Jenny smiled, “Who is this?” she said, pointing at Jimmy.

“Oh, this is my friend Jimmy, who helped me save your life,” Lolly exclaimed.

“Thanks so much, Lolly and Jimmy!” said Jenny with teary eyes.

Lolly looked at her watch and said, “We still have a few minutes before Minerva can cast her spell. Let’s hurry up!”
They noticed that Minerva was not in her house, so they quickly sneaked in. Jimmy took out the page with the details on how to make the potion for an unconsciousness spell. Jenny, Lolly, and Jimmy teamed up to find all the ingredients for the potion in the house. Luckily, they found everything. Once the potion was ready, they had to come up with a plan to give this potion to Minerva before she could cast her immortality spell, which seemed an impossible task.

Jenny came up with an idea to switch the potions. “The immortality spell was in a brown cauldron,” Jenny remembered. So they searched Minerva’s house for a brown cauldron.

“Hey, guys!” Lolly yelled. ”I think I found the potion!”

Jimmy and Jenny ran towards Lolly. Right next to Lolly there was a cupboard, and in that cupboard there was a brown cauldron. Jenny took the cauldron outside, dumped it out, and brought it back inside.

“There!” she said as she poured the other potion into the cauldron. They put the cauldron back in the cupboard and hid under one of the tables.

Finally, Minerva returned and entered her house excitedly. She ran inside to get her magical potion and drank it while Jimmy , Lolly, and Jenny eagerly waited to see what would happen next !

In an instant, Minerva fell down on the floor.

“Yay!!” the three of them cried happily.

“But how will I get back home?” Jenny sighed.

“Look, this magic wand will take you back home,” Lolly smiled as she got the wand from Minerva’s pocket.
Jenny hugged Lolly and Jimmy.

“Goodbye! It was great meeting you guys,” she expressed with a heavy heart. Lolly waved the wand at Jenny.

“Jenny! Jenny, wake up dear. It’s time for school!” Jenny heard her mom calling her name. And then she realized she was on her bed.

“Oh! Was I dreaming this whole time?” Jenny wondered groggily. Then, she rolled on her bed and saw candies lined up on her table: a beautiful white chocolate doll, gummy bears, lollipops, monkey shaped gummies…

Writing Your Way to Success

Writing Your Way to Success

How can we teach our students to succeed in the 21st century?

This is the driving question in education today. Now that information is readily available at the click of a button, coupled with the ever-changing technology-driven world we live in, school has shifted its focus.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization founded in 2001, has identified four core skills–Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity–nicknamed the Four C’s. California is one of 19 states working with P21, and California educators are honing in on the Four C’s.

My personal favorite is creativity. How do we help students tap into their imagination? 

Creative writing is an obvious arena for imagination, and many students enjoy the freedom to write whatever they want. Open-ended prompts such as ‘What would you do if a talking dog arrived at your front door?’ are often used as daily warm-ups in classrooms. 

Story-telling, a classic genre within creative writing, takes more time. And time, as all teachers know, is a limited resource in school. Narrative writing is only one text type that teachers must cover, so, unfortunately, for most of the year students are not learning creative writing. 

Writing a story requires a great deal of creativity.

This begins with brainstorming ideas. It can be difficult to think of a plot, so we usually start with the setting:

  • Where will your story take place?
  • Is it a real place or imaginary?
  • What is the weather like?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What can you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel in this place?

Then, we explore the characters:

  • Who is the main character in your story?
  • Is it a person, animal, object, or a made-up creature?
  • What does he/she/it look like?
  • What character traits does he/she/it possess?
  • Who else will be in the story?
  • What do they look like?
  • What are their character traits?
  • Will they help or hurt the main character?

At this point, students can imagine their characters in a particular place, and this provides a context for their plot:

  • What problems could your characters face?
  • Can you think of a tricky problem that would require a clever solution?
  • How would your characters begin to solve this problem?
  • What would happen next?
  • How would the problem be resolved?

Their answers to these questions provide what I like to call a story sketch. This serves as a guide for their first draft. They must fill in their sketch with descriptive writing, figurative language, and dialogue. 

The next stage in the process is to workshop their writing. Students read each other’s work and learn from each other. This is a chance for students to practice giving and receiving feedback:

  • Does the story make sense?
  • Are there any plot holes?
  • Is the writing descriptive enough so that the reader can imagine being in the story?
  • What did the writer do really well?
  • What suggestions can you offer the writer?

Next, mechanical errors regarding grammar, punctuation, and capitalization are resolved. 

And voila, the student has written a story!

I began by describing creative writing as a medium for nurturing creativity, but as you can see, it also requires communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Creative writing is, in fact, a fun way for students to cultivate all of the Four C’s.

Nurtem’s high school classes start this week

Nurtem’s high school classes start this week

Nurtem’s high school classes start this week
July 28, 2020
nurtem social imageArtboard 1 copy

Pre-Algebra

Tutor:  David Weiss

$40 per class

Monday 3 – 4 pm

Tutor:  Ashley

$40 per class

Monday 11 am – 12 pm

Algebra 1

Tutor:  Rawan

$40 per class

Monday 1:00 Pm to 3:00 pm

Tutor:  Muskan

$30 per class

Tuesday 5 – 6pm

Algebra 2

Tutor:  Ken

$45 per class

Monday 1:00 Pm to 3:00 pm

Tutor:  kallie

$40 per class

Wednesday 2pm to 3 pm

Trigonometry

Tutor:  Kira

$40 per class

Monday 1:00 Pm to 3:00 pm

Tutor:  Loren

$70 per class

Monday 10am – 11 am

Pre Calculus

Tutor:  Rawan

$40 per class

Thursday 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Tutor:  Jeffery

$50 per class

Tuesday 4 to 6 pm

AP Calculus

Tutor:  Eesh

$40 per class

Monday 1:00 Pm to 3:00 pm

Tutor:  Anders

$45 per class

Friday 2 to 3 pm

AP Statistics

Tutor:  Khaing

$30 per class

Thu 2 to 3 pm

Tutor:  Eesh

$40 per class

Saturday 4 to 6 pm

AP Physics

Tutor:  Tony

$60 per class

Thursday 9.30 to 11.30 am

Tutor:  Anders

$45 per class

Friday 2 to 3 pm

AP Chemistry

Tutor: Logan

$45 per class

Mon 3 to 4 pm

Tutor:  Chris

$50 per class

Mon 4 to 6 pm

Geometry

Tutor:  Fang

$50 per class

Sat 5pm to 6 pm

Tutor:  Loren

$45 per class

Wednesday 11am – 12 am

High School Science

Tutor:  Patrick

$40 per class

Sat 8 am to 9 am

Biology

Tutor:  Bethany

$35 per class

Sat 9 to 10 am

Tutor:  Noah

$35 per class

Friday 3 – 4 pm

AP Biology

Tutor:  Manisha

$45 per class

Friday 3 – 4 pm

Tutor:  Loren

$70 per class

Thu 9 to 10 am

AP World History

Tutor:  Miles

$40 per class

Tue 12 to 1 pm

Tutor:  Walter

$70 per class

Sat 2 am to 5 pm

AP US history

Tutor:  Miles

$40 per class

Friday 4 to 5 pm

AP Chinese

Tutor:  Fang

$50 per class

Tuesday 5 to 6 pm

Tutor:  Katherine

$50 per class

Saturday 5 to 6 pm

Tutor:  Jen

$45 per class

Thursday 7 – 8 pm

Spanish

Tutor:  Ana Uribe

$50 per class

Sat 4 to 5 pm

Tutor:  Stefania

$55 per class

Wednesday 12 to 1 pm

College prep English

Tutor:  Alex

$65 per class

Mon 6 to 7 pm

Tutor:  Billy

$50 per class

Mon 3 to 4 pm

Tutor:  Katie

$50 per class

Mon 7 to 8 pm

Sat Math

Tutor:  Ken

$45 per class

Wednesday 8pm to 9 pm

Tutor:  Jeffery

$60 per class

Friday 3 pm to 5.30 pm

Sat English

Tutor:  David Johnson

$60 per class

Thu 10.30 to 11.30 am

Tutor:  Amy Bright

$75 per class

Tue 3.30 to 4.30 pm